The Real Stories Special Relationship Pitch

Real Stories is the home of compelling, award-winning documentary films from the best storytellers on the planet. In 2017, they began commissioning original documentaries for the first time to sit alongside our acquired films. In their first released commissions, they explored a rich mix of stories from the phenomenon of proxy marriage (click here for Absent From Our Own Wedding – shot on location in Montana), and the tale of an East London ex-con grime artist in search of redemption (click here for Sorry I Shot You), to the voyage of a group of young friends down the Mississippi River on a boat made entirely of plastic bottles (click here for Travelling on Trash).


The Brief

In Summer 2018, Real Stories will be commissioning their next slate of films. As part of that, at Sheffield Doc/Fest they’re offering filmmakers the chance to pitch for up to £20,000 to produce a 10-minute film for the channel.

Real Stories is a global channel, but it was built on a foundation of UK-produced factual/documentary content. With over 60% of their audience in North America, they’ve demonstrated that US and Canadian viewers love watching high quality, UK-produced stories.

The Special Relationship Pitch asks filmmakers to submit ideas for a film that will directly appeal to their North American audience. That does not mean that the story must be set in the US or Canada (although of course they can be), but submissions must consider how the subject matter will appeal to a largely North American audience. For the sake of clarity, the name of this pitch competition is intended to be taken quite broadly – it is not specifically about UK/US political relations. You can interpret it in whatever way you choose.

The Real Stories audience skews slightly female and young (60% 16-34). Whilst they broadcast on several platforms, including their owned and operated SVoD/AVoD service, YouTube is their global platform of choice, albeit the most competitive viewing environment.

Real Stories films tend to be centred on striking human characters. The films can explore any subject area, but it must be through the prism of the human experience. Topics that have appealed to the Real Stories audience include true crime and the criminal justice system, families and parenting, over-coming adversity and poverty, extraordinary humans and films exploring obsessions. Great characters, great access and great narratives are key.

Real Stories content has stood the test of time and remains relevant long after it was first produced and broadcast. Whilst your film should tap into the zeitgeist (it must answer the ‘Why Now?’ question), they are still looking for stories with longevity.


How To Apply

The Real Stories Special Relationship Pitch is now closed. Successful finalists will be notified Thursday 17 May. The Live Pitch at Sheffield Doc/Fest wil take place Monday 11 June, 10:00 - 11:30. 

Full Terms and Conditions

Click here to go to the Real Stories YouTube channel to see the kind of films they acquire and commission. You can also access all their original commissions by clicking here to view the playlist on the Real Stories Website and App. If you are not in the UK, then you will need to enter coupon code docfest18 to access a 1-month free trial.

For any queries regarding The Real Stories Special Relationship Pitch, please contact marketplace@sidf.co.uk